On July 8, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. the Second District of the California Court of Appeal will hear oral argument In the Matter of A.P., a dependency case involving a child who is a member of the Choctaw Nation. The narrow issue before the court is whether the lower court erred in following the placement provisions under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and accompanying California law implementing the ICWA. The lower court placed A.P. with her extended Indian family over the objection of the de facto parents, who are A.P.’s foster parents. The broader issues raised by the foster parents are: (1) ICWA does not apply because A.P. was never in the physical custody of her Indian father and thus A.P. was not removed from an “Indian family”; and (2) the ICWA is unconstitutional.
The arguments advanced by the foster parents have been rejected by the California courts and legislature but are being resurrected in the hope that the recent United States Supreme Court case Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl has breathed new life into them. The foster parents’ legal team includes many of the attorneys involved in the Baby Girl case and are using the same arguments here in California to advocate for limiting the application of the ICWA and, if possible, having the ICWA declared unconstitutional.
CILS encourages tribes and tribal community members to show their support for the preservation of the ICWA in California and attend the July 8th hearing if possible. The hearing will be held at: